BUCCANEERS 10 LANSDOWNE 19 | News | Buccaneers Rugby Football Club Athlone

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published:Sep  18   2017


BUCCANEERS were desperately unfortunate to come away empty-handed from their Ulster Bank League Division 1A game against Lansdowne which the visitors won 19-10 after a hard-fought encounter in miserable weather conditions at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Saturday. With five debutants in their side, Buccs put it up to Lansdowne from start to finish before last season’s table toppers took the spoils.


Half the starters in the home pack was comprised of newcomers in prop Conan O’Donnell, lock Peter Claffey, backrower Dan Law and No.8 Paul Boyle. Teenager Thomas McGann made his first AIL start on the left wing for the Pirates who were short a frontline trio of injured backs in Jordan Conroy, Callum Boland and Mata Fifita while prop Conor Kenny was not available to the homesters for this Dubarry of Ireland sponsored match.


Drizzle arrived to coincide with kick off time and the more experienced Lansdowne outfit were quickest to settle but Buccs were resolute in defence in the opening ten minutes. After their initial nervousness, the midlanders got into their stride with Dan Law making the first telling raid and Shane Layden then found room but kicked ahead a shade too early. They built on this to force a penalty but Alan Gaughan’s 14th minute effort from the ten metre line dipped under the crossbar. Three minutes later, Luke Carty was flagged for blocking and Lansdowne’s Scott Deasy opened the scoring with the resultant penalty.


Buccs responded and Simon Meagher got up swiftly to tackle Deasy over the visitors’ line to force a five-metre scrum.  From this the Athlone side built up a promising attack with numbers to the left but Gaughan attempted an ill-judged grubber kick and the metropolitans cleared the danger. Then following a penalty punted to the right, Buccs won lineout possession and moved the ball in-field where Rory O’Connor made a break before chipping over the cover and Lansdowne were mightily relieved that Foster Horan won the race to touchdown.


The visitors got the rub of the green shortly afterwards when fullback Eamonn Mills brought the ball back from a Buccs kick ahead over his own line to ground it with the referee ignoring the hosts justifiable pleas for a five metre scrum. Five minutes before half-time, McGann chased another teasing chip ahead and Daniel McEvoy was forced to concede a penalty for not releasing the ball but Gaughan was untypically off-target with the kickable placekick and so Lansdowne led 3-0 at the interval.


Lansdowne dominated the opening exchanges of the second half also but Deasy’s 43rd minute penalty fell short. However, the Corkonian’s 50th minute penalty earned some reward for their pressure to edge 6-0 ahead. But, virtually straight from the restart, Carty drilled over a sensational drop goal from close to his own ten metre line that finally fired up the home supporters. However, he then dropped a pass from Conor McKeon and Lansdowne booted ahead with Charlie Rock getting the vital touch for an opportunist 53rd minute try. The homesters were aggrieved with this as speedster McGann was clearly impeded in this chase and Lansdowne made the most of their further good fortune with Deasy’s conversion putting them 13-3 to the good.


But Buccs struck back following a penalty to the right and, when possession was moved infield, Conor McKeon’s smart show and go wrong-footed the Leinster side’s defence as he darted in for a 57th minute try between the posts. Gaughan’s conversion left just three points between the teams as the contest entered the final quarter. However, Buccs were punished for indiscipline in this period with Shane Delahunt incurring a yellow card for rashly kicking the ball away after the hosts conceded a penalty in midfield. Deasy stretched Lansdowne’s advantage with penalties on 66 and 73 minutes following offside and scrum infringements respectively.


The Pirates continued to battle and O’Connor showed great desire when getting a boot to the ball on the Lansdowne ten metre line but, with the Dublin side’s defence breached, his second kick ahead was a shade too strong and the ball edged over the deadball line just before he could ground it. Thus Lansdowne, arguably the most consistent club in the AIL for the past five seasons during which they twice won the title and topped the league table last year, got off to a winning 19-10 start. Their pack was physically stronger and they were the more pragmatic and seasoned outfit whilst seemingly benefiting from the majority of the marginal decisions by referee Eddie Hogan-O’Connell, who looked off the pace of the game.


Meanwhile Buccaneers can take encouragement and belief from their display as they were far from outplayed in their return after a decade to the top flight when they possibly granted Lansdowne too much respect on occasion. They kicked away far too much possession and need to be more patient and disciplined. But they had the far greater number of try chances that with a bit more cuteness and luck would have earned the spoils that the endeavours of Audi Athlone Man of the Match Boyle would have deserved. Claffey, John Sutton and O’Connor were others to the fore in Buccaneers cause.


BUCCANEERS:- L.Carty; R.O’Connor, S.Layden (captain), D.Poolman, T.McGann; A.Gaughan, F.Hopkins; M.Staunton, J.Sutton, C.O’Donnell; P.Claffey, C.Romaine; D.Law, S.Meagher and P.Boyle. Replacements:- C.McKeon (for Hopkins, 47 mins), S.Delahunt (for Sutton, 47 mins), E.McKeon (for Law, 50 mins), C.Reid (for McGann, 59 mins), T.McGann (for Reid, inj. 70 mins), J.Sutton (for E.McKeon, temp. 60/70 mins) and N.Farrelly.


LANSDOWNE:-  E.Mills; D.McEvoy, I.Fitzpatrick, F.Cleary, F.Horan; S.Deasy, A.Bennie; I.Prendiville (captain), T.Moran, A.Boland; P.Donnellan, J.O’Rourke; J.Dwan, C.Butterworth and W.Earle. Replacements:- C.Rock (for Bennie, 50 mins), S.Coughlan (for Cleary, 52 mins), N.Mpiko (for Boland, 60 mins), J.Dineen and B.Fitzpatrick.


Referee:- Eddie Hogan-O’Connell (IRFU).




BUCCANEERS travel to Dooradoyle on Saturday to square up with Garryowen in the second round of this season’s Ulster Bank League Division 1A with the kick off in Limerick at 2.30 p.m. Both teams will be seeking their first win of the campaign following opening day defeats to Dublin clubs Lansdowne and St. Mary’s College.


Garryowen, who retained their Division 1A status last term following play-off wins over Old Wesley and UL Bohemian, were busy recruiting following that scare with a trio including lock Aaron McCloskey and No.8 Sean Rennison moving from neighbours Young Munster. Trinity prop Paddy Keating was another notable signing for the side captained by scrumhalf Neil Cronin, brother of Ireland hooker Sean. The Johnston brothers, outhalf Bill and centre David, are key backs along with Diarmuid McCarthy while Munster hooker Mike Sherry was an interesting player to spring from the bench at Templeville Road.


Buccs will have gleaned encouragement from their performance against Lansdowne despite coming out on the wrong side of the 19-10 scoreline. The Pirates endeavour to play an expansive game but the ball does not have to be spread too quickly while their kicking game malfunctioned on Saturday. Greater patience and composure would have helped their cause last weekend while they were punished for some indiscipline. These are areas that can be readily tweaked to their benefit. Jordan Conroy is still a week or two from returning after injury but Callum Boland and Mata Fifita look longer term absentees. Corey Reid is their major injury concern from the Lansdowne match.


Darin Classen and Mike McCarthy will surely have paid attention to these fixable but crucial details on the training paddock before the trip to Limerick. If the Buccs players pay due heed and play to their collective potential and strengths, they are well capable of taking points from Dooradoyle.  




BUCCANEERS SECONDS have their first home league match of the season when they entertain Monivea in the Connacht Junior 1A League at Dubarry Park on Sunday afternoon. Buccs shipped a heavy defeat away to a very strong Sligo squad in the opening round but with players coming back will expect to be more organised on this occasion. Kick off 2.30 p.m.


BUCCANEERS U-20s are also in action at Dubarry Park on Sunday when they tackle Old Wesley in a Leinster League qualifier. Buccs did very well in Division 2 last season and will hope to acquit themselves in similar fashion this time round. They had a hard 60-minute workout against Naas last Sunday despite being short a number of important players some of whom were on duty with the Senior squad. The action here also gets under way at 2.30 p.m.